NY Humanities Council ``Together Muslim Voices`` Children's Book List

The Champ by Tanya Bolden

The book highlights Ali’s life as a fighter and activist, including his start in the sport of boxing, his conversion to Islam and his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War. Christie’s use of bold pinks and yellows, sketchy pencil lines, and dark strokes of paint emphasize Ali’s exciting life and flamboyant personality and illuminate Bolden’s free-verse structure punctuated with enthusiastic exclamations. (Picture book)

The Librarian of Basra by Jeannette Winter

This is the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, a librarian at the Basra Central Library. When government officials ignore her pleas for help, Alia and her neighbors smuggle over 30,000 books to safety only days before it is burned to ground during the Iran-Iraq War. (Picture book)

Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

During a chaotic escape from the Taliban, Fadi’s younger sister accidentally lets go of her brother’s hand and the family is forced to leave her behind. They relocate to the U.S. but after September 11th the family must also cope with a newfound resentment for Afghans in America. Fadi, guilt-ridden and miserable, turns to photography in the hope he will find some solace. When his school club announces a contest where the winner wins a trip to India, Fadi finds a chance to return to his home country and to find his beloved sister. (Chapter book)

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

Though Jameela lives with a birth defect that has left her with a cleft lip, she feels relatively secure in the strength of her beloved mother, Mor. But when Mor suddenly dies, Jameela’s father impulsively decides to seek a new life in Kabul with his new wife. Jameela’s stepmother then forces her father to abandon her in a Kabul market. Ultimately, Jameela is placed in an orphanage, and her story takes an upward turn as she goes to school and has surgery to correct her deformed lip. (Chapter book)

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Hayaat and her faithful best friend Samy live in Bethlehem on the occupied West Bank where life has been tragic and difficult for as long as they can remember. When Hayaat’s beloved grandmother falls ill, the two kids decide to travel to Jerusalem to collect soil from a garden that once belonged to Hayaat’s family. Though only a few miles away, the walls and checkpoints and soldiers make Jerusalem seem like the other side of the world. (Chapter book)

Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeannette Winter

After Nasreen’s parents disappeared, she stopped speaking or smiling. To help Nasreen find her voice again, her grandmother risks her own life to enroll her in a secret school for girls, where she slowly discovers a world of art, literature, and history obscured by the harsh prohibitions of the Taliban. (Picture book)

Silent Music by James Rumford

Ali has many hobbies such as soccer and listening to loud music, but his real passion is calligraphy. Nicknamed Yakut, after a master calligrapher who lived in the 13th century, Ali devotes much of his time to practicing the art. He finds inspiration in Yakut, and like his idol, Ali turns to calligraphy as a source of comfort as war engulfs Baghdad. (Picture book)

The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland

Ahmed has a secret that he wants to share with his family: he can write his name. But first, he must work. Ahmed takes us through Cairo and the colorful characters and buildings that make up his city. Along the way, he remembers some fatherly advice, eats traditional Egyptian food, and delivers butane gas to his community. Cairo becomes a character in this beautifully illustrated story. (Picture book)

Kampung Boy by Lat

This graphic novel offers a peek into the early life of Mat, a Muslim boy growing up in a rural village in Malaysia in the 1950s. Mat recalls his village days fondly, detailing both the special and the ordinary—his circumcision ceremony, celebrated by his entire village, is highlighted in equal regard with a trip to the movies and bike rides into town. (Graphic novel)

Mirror by Jeannie Baker

This wordless picture book compares one day in the life of two young boys: one living in Sydney, Australia, and another living in a small village in Morocco. Though at first glance their lives are very different, similarities emerge at unexpected points. Designed to be read side-by-side—Australia on the left and Morocco on the right, with titles in both English and Arabic—these two stories will invite readers to make comparisons not only between the boys but also to their own lives. (Picture book)

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

In 1998 when Kosovo hostilities escalate, the life of thirteen-year-old Meli, an ethnic Albanian, changes forever after her brother escapes his Serbian captors and the entire family flees from one refugee camp to another until an American church group helps them immigrate to the United States. The events of 9/11 bring more challenges for this Muslim family—but this country is now their home and there can be no turning back. (Chapter book)

Children’s Book List Scholar-Advisors

Dr. Seemi Aziz (Raina) has a Masters and a PhD from the University of Arizona in the field of education and is an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University. Her interests are in reading and literacy, visual culture, and cross- cultural representations. Her research focus is multicultural adolescent and children’s literature, specifically representations of Muslims within the literature. She has presented her research at local, national, and international conferences. She has written widely on her research interests. She is on the Board of Directors of the Worlds Of Words (wowlit.org), and was a member in USBBY Outstanding International Books Committee. She is author of Teaching Islamic Religious Art as an Aid to the Understanding of Islamic Culture (2008).

Dr. Henry Goldschmidt is Director of Education Programs at The Interfaith Center of New York. Henry is a cultural anthropologist, community educator, and scholar of New York’s religious diversity. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and has taught religious studies and cultural anthropology at Wesleyan University and elsewhere. He is the author of Race and Religion among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights (Rutgers University Press, 2006) and the coeditor of Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Annie Rawlings is the Director of Outreach and Program Administration at The Interfaith Center of New York. She was the lead staff for the Prepare New York initiative: a collaboration of six interfaith organizations to promote inter- religious understanding as part of the observance of the tenth anniversary of September 11th. She was also an advisor for the New York Council for the Humanities Community Conversations toolkit for September 11th. She currently oversees the Debate in the Neighborhood Project, a Prisoner Reentry Project that involves Christian and Muslim faith leaders in Harlem, and Astoria Conversations, which seeks to connect newer Muslim and Hindu immigrants with more settled Greek and Italian communities in Astoria, Queens. She was previously the Interim Executive Presbyter for Social Witness for the Presbytery of New York City (PCUSA), the Executive Director of the Bertram M. Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty at Fordham University, and the Director of A Partnership of Faith in New York City. Annie co-founded the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform, and the national Presbyterian Church (USA) Criminal Justice Network, and is a Steering Committee member of both initiatives. She received a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary.

Dr. Nerina Rustomji is an Associate Professor of History at St. John’s University. She specializes in the intellectual and cultural formation of Islamic societies and the Middle East. Additionally, she is interested in America’s relationship with the Muslim World, prophetic biography as a historical genre, gendered configurations in Islamic societies, and the history of secularism. Her first book The Garden and the Fire: Heaven and Hell in Islamic Culture (Columbia University Press, 2009) narrates a history of heaven and hell in Islamic texts, material cultures, and book arts from the seventh century C.E. She is currently completing her second book, Images of Houris and Visions of Islam, which examines how contemporary Muslims, American media, and European intellectuals represent one of the most sensational tropes about Islam: pure female companions or houris in Islamic Paradise. The project, which has received fellowship support from the American Council of Learned Societies (2007-2008) and the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan (2008), seeks to show how varying religious and political interpretations use medieval tropes and reconfigure them for battles about Islamic religion and society in the twenty-first century.

Fatima Shama was appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in August, 2009. Commissioner Shama had previously served as Senior Education Policy Advisor at the Mayor’s Office. Prior to joining the Bloomberg Administration in 2006, Ms. Shama served for four years as Executive Director of the Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition. Ms. Shama earned a Bachelor of Arts from Binghamton University and a Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs Executive Program.

Dr. Shawkat M. Toorawa attended the University of Pennsylvania and received a B.A. (Hons) in Arabic and Islamic Studies, an M.A. in modern Arabic, and a Ph.D. in classical Arabic literature. He has taught Arabic at Duke University, medieval French literature and Indian Ocean studies at the University of Mauritius, and worked in a family import/export company in Kuala Lumpur and Port-Louis. In 2000, he joined Cornell University, where he is currently Associate Professor of Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. His current research and teaching interests include: the Qur’anic lexicon, in particular hapaxes and rhyme-words; the literary and writerly culture of Abbasid Baghdad; the southwest Indian Ocean; the 18th century Indian author, Azad Bilgrami; the poetry of the modern Syro-Lebanese poet Adonis; and the Creole-language Mauritian author Dev Virahsawmy. Shawkat’s recent books include Islam: a short guide to the faith (2011), which he co-edited with Roger Allen, and Flame Tree Lane, an edition and translation of a Mauritian novella. He is preparing as co-executive editor a critical edition of Bilgrami’s Cure for the Ailing for the Library of Arabic Literature, an initiative to edit and translate the pre- modern Arabic literary heritage. He also translated passages of the Qur’an into rhyming English prose. He consulted on the humanities content for Muslim Voices.